New Moms, go get your groove back!
The following is a guest post from my good friend Emily Baker. Emily is a new mom working through the struggles of balancing taking care of a new life and her own life.
So I’m officially out of the “you just had a baby” window.
My baby is four and a half months old now and growing every day! He seems a lot more like his daddy’s mini-me than he does the tiny mysterious alien that we brought home from the hospital. It’s time that this mommy gets back in the saddle and I intend to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of this entire process. I have thoroughly explored all three of these angles.
I could totally handle balancing it all, right?
Before we got pregnant, I was in a serious groove in my own health and fitness revolution. I had lost close to 30 pounds, was working out for a half hour about five to six days a week, and running a few times a week as well. I was feeling good, feeling strong, and feeling ready for whatever life had in store for us as we planned to grow our family. I could totally handle balancing it all, right?
Well, growing a tiny human has a funny way of wreaking havoc on your body. Add in gestational hypertension, partial bed-rest, and swelling that would give the Michelin Man a run for his money and BAM, I was basically right back to where I started. I’ve got news for you, I didn’t even make it to the last month! Our beautiful baby boy was delivered four weeks early on the first day of spring and the whirlwind called parenthood officially began.
For the past four months, life seems to have been a tornado of the eat, sleep, poop, cycle and I have had a vital role in this process. I can now change diapers in the dark and have employed the help of something called a sleep suit… I wish I were joking. Now that we’ve got the hang of things for the most part (if that’s even possible), I’m reclaiming a piece of me that I let slide to the back-burner while I focused on my little man. Over the past few weeks, I’ve jumped on and off of the fitness train and I seem to finally be ready to take this on full force! I’m ready for my comeback story!
I had to first decide what “getting back into it” would look like for me. I enjoy strength training workouts and running. Both are drastically different post-childbirth.
For starters, I initially thought I would find a way to occupy the wee one while I got in a thirty minute workout. “I’ll sit you in this fun chair and you’ll be entertained at least that long, right?” Wrong. The first few times I attempted to utilize this technique, I found myself stopping more times than I care to share and just feeling frustrated by the end.
Sometimes you just need a little bit of time to sit and just be.
Ok, Plan B. I’ll work out once he goes to bed. Ha! I’m willing to bet that any new parent would agree with me that taking care of an infant full time requires all you’ve got in you and then just a little bit more. I can only imagine what this will be like once I go back to work but that’s something to ponder another day. It’s taken me many weeks, and lots of support from my husband to find any success with this post-bedtime technique and even then it’s not foolproof. Bedtime can be dicey. A hot shower becomes more important. Sometimes you just need a little bit of time to sit and just be. You know what I’m talking about.
To add to that, my body has given me a piece of its mind as I’ve been working hard to get back into things. I’m somewhat convinced that my stomach muscles may never be the same but I’m finding ways to strengthen and tone these muscles to make things a little bit easier. The dull, nagging pain in my lower abdomen is a gentle reminder of the time my sweet baby boy spent snuggled in there. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to missing those days every once in awhile. The many hours spent nursing round the clock have also left me with quite a bit of back pain which can make some workouts or runs tricky. Then we have the lack of sleep. We are getting a bit closer to sleeping through the night which is really exciting but it can sometimes be challenging to get my body to run on all cylinders during a workout when my tank is just about empty for the day.
Nobody knows or understands the struggles of a new mom quite like a new mom
Why do I share all of this? Honestly it’s pretty simple. Nobody knows or understands the struggles of a new mom quite like a new mom. I want anyone who might read this to know that it can be done and that it’s completely fine not to be perfect at it! On the days that I feel like I have nothing left, I ask myself if getting a workout in would make me feel better or worse. So far, almost every day the answer has been “better”. Better for myself, better for my family, and better in the long run. So you know what? I get out there and get it done as often as I can. My running is much slower paced these days. My workouts are occasionally interrupted by my little guy who just needs some extra attention. Sure there are days where I just don’t fit a workout into my schedule. But you know what? I’m a work in progress and I’m absolutely fine with that. The minute I let go of that “supermom” mentality was the minute I began feeling more at peace with my new role and my new (wonderfully more complex) life.
I ran past my front yard at the tail end of a run the other night to see my husband and son watering the plants together and my husband telling our son “There goes your Mommy!”. That right there is a huge part of why I will continue to fight my way back to my best version of me. I am my best self and in turn a better mom and wife when I am taking care of me. I have to do that. I could do a little more of it, but like I said, I’m a work in progress. In the midst of many many very busy days, it’s easy to forget to take care of myself. The days that I do make the choice to do so though are the days that I go to bed feeling positive and accomplished. I may go to bed a little later than usual or with a few extra aches and pains post-workout, but I go to bed knowing that I accomplished something huge.
Today I was a Mom and a Wife and most importantly, I took time to fill my tank. I invested in me. Whatever tomorrow brings, today was a good day and I get to start fresh again in the morning.
So to all my Mom friends out there, if at all possible, get out there. Get it done. Do your best. You’ll be glad you did. You are so worth it.